Despite the widespread retail doldrums, specialty makeup retailers like Ulta Beauty Inc. (ULTA) and Sally Beauty Holdings Inc. (SBH) are able to balance both selling in bricks-and-mortar locations and expanding their online presence.
In 2016, the U.S. prestige makeup category grew 12%, according to NDP Group data, while the U.S. mass makeup category grew 5%, according to Nielsen data. According to estimates by Jefferies LLC analyst Stephanie Wissink, members of the Generation Z and Millennial generations, all those under the age of 35, are price-conscious shoppers who prefer new products and “seek frequent change,” with “upgrade cycles” occurring every two years. They also regularly use more individual products than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.
“The rate of shopping outpaced the rate of regimen change, which skewed slightly higher toward quarterly,” Wissink wrote in June, citing a proprietary survey. “This is a signal of the micro-trend orientation of the category–trend cycles are shortening as beauty participants engage, experiment, are inspired by something new, and transition onto the next micro trend.”
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78% of purchases are done in stores, according to the Jefferies survey, with the top seven retailers accounting for 70% of “mindshare.” Ulta led the pack at nearly 18%, followed by Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT) , LVMH-backed Sephora, Target Corp. (TGT) , Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.’s (WBA) Walgreens, CVS Health Corp. (CVS) , Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Macy’s Inc. (M) .
Pure-play beauty retailers like Ulta have taken a beating from fears of encroachment from department stores like Macy’s and online retailers like Amazon, according to Cowen analyst Oliver Chen, who added that these fears are overblown. Ulta could become the “Amazon of retail,” he wrote, and the company plans to grow online sales to 10% of the mix, up from 7.9% in the first quarter, itself a 71% year-over-year increase.
At Ulta, “the online shopping…